Meet a Museum Family #6

September 10, 2015

Kids in Museums

It’s Thursday! Well, I guess that’s stating the obvious. But Thursdays have in the recent past been the day I introduce new editions of my ‘Meet a Museum Family’ series, where I interview other museum loving families, asking them to share their experiences and tips with my readers. So, after the rather involuntary summer break, it’s a good day to pick the series up again today. This time, we travel to Germany for the first time in the series, to talk to Maria.

YayoiKusama_Zürich

1. Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about yourself and your family?

We are a family of four: my husband and me, Maria, both journalists, with our 10 and 13 year old daughters. We live in southern Germany, we love to travel and go to a lot of art museums.

2. How old were your kids when you started taking them to museums, and what was the first museum you remember taking them to?

I really can’t recall how old they were when we first took them to museums. They just came along when we went. The first visit I really remember was a day at Hampton Court Palace near London with our older daughter when she was about 2.5 years old. That was a great destination for a little girl who liked princesses. When she was five, I started visiting art museums with her systematically, her little sister in tow. My younger daughter started to actively take part in our art discoveries when she was four.

3. Did you enjoy visiting museums when you were a child?

It’s in the genes: My mother regularly took me to art museums, and I remember always being happy to go. I grew up in Hamburg, so we were often touring northern Germany to look at places where artists had lived or to visit museums which focused on artists from the region. For me, that was a nice approach.

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Starting early: In the sculpture garden at Museo Chillida-Leku in San Sebastián, when the girls were four and eight years old.


4. Why do you think it’s important to take kids to museums?

There are many reasons, but I think in the end it all comes down to opening their minds – and ours, too, if we are with them. This is true for all kinds of museums I can imagine. They help understand how other people live or lived, how they perceive the world and what they value. In other cases, they make us see nature and science from a perspective we don’t get in everyday life or at school. And so on. I think museums just add a dimension to the world we live in and make it a little bigger.

5. What’s the last museum you visited as a family and how was it?

That was the National Gallery in Poznán, Poland. It’s a very important museum, but somehow we didn’t really connect to the artworks we got to see there. Maybe it was the wrong day for us. Anyway, I thought it would be a shame to leave the place in a disappointed mood, so I told my daughters that we had to find at least one picture we seriously liked before leaving. In the end, we found three, we really had fun and we’re keeping the museum in good memory.

6. What is your favourite museum to take your kids to?

During the last years, we have grown more and more fond of the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, the applied arts museum, in Hamburg. They have a great permanent collection, but we often come for the special exhibitions showing a mixture of art, design and fashion. Moreover, the museum has a kind of design playground for kids between age 5 and 12 in the basement, the Hubertus Wald Kinderreich which we recommend to everyone having the occasion to go there.

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Hubertus Wald Kinderreich at the Kunst und Gewerbe Museum in Hamburg.


7. Can you share a particularly memorable family museum experience?

I remember a very special museum visit in Iceland. My guidebook highly recommended the folk museum Skógar, so when we were in the region, we went there. It was what you would call a ‘Heimatmuseum’ in German, a classical folk museum with things from the everyday life of the people who had been living in the south of Iceland during the last centuries. This is exactly the kind of museum my daughters would normally find boring. But this was Iceland. Every object told stories about the extraordinary nature and the myths that had formed the lives of the people there. Somehow we felt like being in a fairy tale world, but a real one. Museums can be great for your imagination!

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A school room at Skógar folk museum in Iceland.


8. If your family kids could create a museum, what would it be about?

I asked them, and they decided that they would create a huge Christmas museum with life-size rooms in a Christmas setting.

9. What is the best museum cafe you’ve ever been to with your family and what did you have?

In London’s National Gallery you will find the National Dining Rooms where you can get classical British High Tea as well as everything that’s pink, sweet and wonderful.

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In the museum café at London’s National Gallery.


10. And finally, what advice do you have for other families on how to make museum visits more successful?

I’d like to give an answer that concerns visits to art museums. It’s an easy advice: Sometimes less is more. If you are visiting a big museum, don’t look at everything. Choose an epoch or a few artworks that might interest your kids and focus on them. Take your time to look at these works thoroughly, explain a little, but not too much, and when you’re done with your personal program, leave the museum. Don’t be disappointed if there are so many masterworks you and your kids didn’t see this time. Instead, your children might take with them a deep impression of a few memorable pictures or sculptures which they won’t forget easily. All that without having gotten impatient and bored by walking through lots of exhibition rooms and seeing famous pictures they don’t have access to.


Thank you so much to Maria for taking the time to answer my questions! Some great tips and insights there. I love how they turned round their visit to the National Gallery in Poland and left with a positive memory. If you would like to read more about Maria’s travels and art experiences with her family, check out her blog ‘Kind am Tellerrand‘ (in German) or connect with her on Twitter

If YOU are a museum loving family and would like to take part in the ‘Meet a Museum Family’ interview series, just get in touch! And for other tips about taking children to museums, and recommended museums to visit, check out the ‘Kids in Museums‘ section of my blog. Thanks for reading!


All photographs in this post courtesy of Maria-Bettina Eich.

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One Response to “Meet a Museum Family #6”

  1. Alice Says:

    The best things to do in London are free- I miss the Museums, the Parks (especially Richmond Park), wandering the Thames Path, visiting Markets and just walking around admiring the architecture. I think the couple of attractions that are worth spending money on are the Tower of London, London walks (usually about £10 and lots to choose from) and the interior of St Pauls (love the whispering gallery) and attending a show on the West End.

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